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Imperial Amazon

 (Amazona imperialis)
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© Paul Reillo

Project Status: Completed | 2001


Donner Canadian Foundation, Paradise Park, RARE, Rare Species Conservatory Foundation, American Bird Conservancy (ABC), Forestry and Wildlife Division of Dominica, American Bird Conservancy (ABC), Kyle Brown Legacy, Barbara Delano Foundation

Imperial Amazon populations on the brink

The Imperial Amazon (Amazona imperialis) has a wild population of less than 50 (2018), with habitat loss, trade and hurricanes having decimated the species.

Project progress: From 1999-2001 WPT supported conservation efforts for the Imperial Amazon to:

  • Purchase land to preserve habitat
  • Educate people of local communities
  • Research the ecology of the species
  • Monitor adults and young through the breeding year
  • Encourage in situ (in native range) captive breeding

Outcomes: Successful local education, land preservation and conservation had stabilized the population of this species.  In 2001 the Canadian arm of the WPT donated $289,000 received through the Donner Canadian Foundation to the Rare Species Conservatory Foundation for their work in Dominica. Funds were used for monitoring and field research, a new 4x4 vehicle to navigate the rough roads in the area, land purchases to create a buffer zone on the edge of the national park, and to finish building the Visitor Centre. In previous years, the WPT provided the successful education bus "The Jacquot Express" to teach about the benefits of conservation.

In late 2017, the island of Dominica was hit by hurricane Maria at a category 5, effectively wiping out the entire island. The Imperial's population was hard hit, with only 10 birds being located thus far.

IUCN/CITES Status: Critically Endangered / Appendix I

Wild population: As of 2018, around 20 birds have been sighted after back-to-back hurricanes in 2017, with a possible 10-15 more via their calls (Riello et al. 2019)

Where found: Island of Dominica (Lesser Antilles)

History: The Imperial Amazon (Amazona imperialis) is native to Dominica, where it is found in the Morne Diablotin area (Raffaele et al. 1998), and North and Central Dominica.  A small population has also re-established in the Morne Trois Pitons National Park (Reillo 2001, Wiley et al. 2007, Reillo in litt. 2007). This species numbered only 80-100 individuals in 1993. By 2003 the population had increased to 150 birds due to conservation measures (Reillo in litt. 2003). The total population before Hurricane Maria was estimated at 250-350 individuals (Wege and Anadón-Irizarry 2008, P. R. Reillo in litt. 2012). It is now thought to be below 50 individuals.


  • Habitat loss (mainly conversion to plantations, especially bananas (Snyder et al. 2000), and hurricane-related damage)
  • Hunting for food
  • Trapping for the cage-bird trade (Reillo in litt. 2012)
  • Competition for nest sites from Amazona arausiaca (Dominica Ministry of Agriculture and the Environment in litt. 2000)

Ecology: Imperial Amazons are found in the canopy of primary mountain rainforest up to 600-1300m (1968-4264 ft) but will descend in response to food shortages or foraging preferences.  Birds consume flowers, fruits, nut and young shoots of many trees.  They roost communally and feed morning and evening.

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